A US political commentator has drawn fire on social media for her account of a run-in with police in New Zealand.

In a piece posted on the Huffington Post, author Janis Powers compared a mandatory breathalyser test conducted by Kiwi police after she was caught speeding with the arrest of black driver Sandra Bland.

in a Texas county jail cell on July 13, three days after a traffic stop by a white police officer escalated into physical confrontation and her arrest.

Her death is reported to be a suicide but many in the black community doubt the official account and accused the police of racism, with the video of her arrest the subject of much controversy. In it the trooper points his Taser at Ms Bland and shouts: "I will light you up!"

Powers, who was described as a healthcare strategist, political commentator and "Solution Seeker", admitted she rewrote her account of the breathalyser test to take in Ms Bland's death and was disappointed with the number of readers the original piece had.


She said in her piece, headlined "He Gave Me a Breathalyzer Test That I Couldn't Refuse", that New Zealand had a problem with police abusing civil rights.

"As we debate the boundaries of law enforcement's authority, I am reminded of my own recent run-in with a traffic cop," Ms Powers wrote. "As a visitor in any foreign country, I never expect my rights as an American to supersede those of the nation where I am travelling. But things just didn't seem right when I was given a mandatory road-side breathalyzer test, just because I was speeding."

Ms Powers said she was puzzled police asked her to do a breath test when there was no "probable cause" or evidence she had been drinking.

"Now this test would have been warranted if I had, say, rammed into a sheep when it wandered into the road, and a cop had found me slumped over the wheel of my car with my speech slurred, my eyes bloodshot and a pile of empty beer bottles in the front seat," she wrote.

"I was pulled over after an officer clocked me for driving too fast through a speed trap in the center of Timaru. My car was littered with empty water bottles and crinkled up road maps, evidence of a long road trip, not intoxication. My two children were in the back seat of the car, holding guidebooks and more maps."

Sandra Bland died in a Texas prison cell. Photo / Facebook
Sandra Bland died in a Texas prison cell. Photo / Facebook

She lamented the fact she'd not been able to consult a Facebook group such as Auckland Checkpoint Watch, where the public share tips on checkpoints and how to avoid them.

"I might have avoided a breach of my civil rights," she wrote. "It was dusk, and we were only two kilometers from our hotel. I just wanted the officer to give me my traffic citation so I could head to the hotel and enjoy a glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc. How ironic."

Powers said she appreciated that some innocent may be "inconvenienced" in order to catch drunk drivers. "Was I frustrated that I was delayed in getting to the hotel? Absolutely. Was I upset that I had to perform this test with my children looking on from inside the car, confused and bewildered? Of course."


She said her "civil rights infringement" was on the low end of the scale but said she was grateful the USA used a different model to catch drunk drivers.

"Fortunately, the United States does not use the New Zealand model of police entrapment to catch drunk drivers. And, to my benefit, we also don't extradite our citizens back to foreign countries where they have violated the speed limit."

Powers said she never paid the fine for speeding. "New Zealand law enforcement may have collected my DNA through a breathalyzer test, but they failed to collect my money for the traffic citation before I left the country. Since I can't find the ticket here at home, am I the one who's bending the rules?"

Her post has disgusted American Huffington Post users as well as New Zealanders on social media here.

"Do every other country a favor and don't travel," one person advised Ms Powers.

"The fact that you came to our country, blatantly disprespected our law by exceeding the speed limit (not to mention speeding with your children in the car, putting them at risk, what a fine example of a human being and great mother you are), and then ran back home ignoring the fine you received for breaking the law, leaves me absolutely fuming," Ashley Williams wrote.


Others tweeted (app users tap here):

On her blog, Ms Powers says she "seeks to spark discussion by presenting them in a fresh and provocative way".

She tweeted that her post "goes to 11".

of being breathalyzed only got "decent" traffic.

"I was a little disappointed that I hadn't put it out there for the world to read. Perhaps, if it had been on the HuffPo, it would have had a broader audience.

"And then the Sandra Bland incident happened. Less than a week after the 4th of July, right after I posted my story, the violation of a woman's civil rights came into question when she was pulled over for a traffic violation. An awful outcome. My story about the breathalyzer incident in New Zealand is different, but the issue at hand is the same. So I re-wrote my story and...posted it to the HuffPo. Check out the newly revised 'He Gave Me a Breathalyzer Test that I Couldn't Refuse', which is now on The Huffington Post in the Crime section."


She boasted that her piece meant she had appeared in 11 sections of the Huffington Post.

The New Zealand Transport Agency said a compulsory impairment test could be carried out for various reasons.

"This could be because of your erratic driving, or if you have been stopped for another reason and appear to be under the influence of drugs."

A person could choose not to take a breath screening or evidential breath test but if refusing such tests, must then undergo a blood test.

Ms Powers admitted she rewrote her account of the breathalyser test to take in Ms Bland's death and was disappointed with the number of readers the original piece had.

New Zealand road policing operations manager Inspector Peter McKennie said overseas drivers in New Zealand were subject to local laws like all other drivers.


He said alcohol was a factor in 30 per cent of fatal crashes in New Zealand and police were "very committed to preventing the harm and trauma associated with alcohol on our roads".

Mr McKennie said this approach had wide public support.

"Furthermore we strongly advise overseas drivers to pay any infringements or fines they have incurred while visiting, as failure to do so could impact on their future ability to return to New Zealand," Mr McKennie added.